Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Savage Anthologists, deterred

I was distracted from my chronological narrative (also called a "blow-by-blow") on the putting together of our anthology (or actually the not putting together of) by an e-mail forwarded from Latasha N. Diggs on the possible closure and moving of the collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Apparently, there are whispers afoot that the collection may be moved to the research branch of the NYPL in midtown.

I read the email with some mixed feelings, because I remembered how difficult the split between the research branch of the NYPL and the Schomburg/NYPL (the former now called the Humanities and Social Sciences Library) had made much of our research for the French anthology. Basically, we entered the anthology with the determination that French writers of color and Francophone writers be fully represented and then some. However, we discovered that most of the books (I’d say all, but I remember one stray book being available at the NYPL) by black French writers were housed at the Schomburg and not at the NYPL’s research library in midtown (yes, the one with the white marble lions guarding the stairs). What this meant and means that the research library’s collection of contemporary French writers is primarily white.

Kristin, Olivier and I discussed the issue and the best we could come up with at the time was that the NYPL should buy duplicate copies. It was obviously important that the Schomburg maintained its important collection in Harlem, but it also seemed essential that black writers would be represented at the Research Library in midtown. But of course, this would cost money. But while discussing the issue with Latasha, I thought of another possible solution, which is that people should be able to request interlibrary loans. Like, we should have been able to request interlibrary loans of the black French authors we wanted to read. Instead, Kristin spent the day at the Schomburg to discover another unfairness, that copies at the Schomburg cost 25 cents per page, as opposed to 10 cents a page at the Research Library.

Anyway, I don't know if the rumors about the Schomburg are true, as I haven't been able to find much else about it online, but if I do hear more, I'll post it here.

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